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MingYang issues North Sea challenge to rivals with 16-MW wind turbine

20 August 2021 Keiron Greenhalgh

Chinese wind turbine manufacturer MingYang issued a challenge to European and US rivals 20 August, announcing plans for the largest turbine yet unveiled and for an offensive in the pioneering North Sea offshore market, virgin territory for the company and its mainland China rivals.

MingYang's MySE 16.0-242 model becomes the largest turbine announced yet with a capacity of 16 MW. The company said the turbine will produce 45% more energy than the biggest previous MingYang model, the MySE 11.0-203.

The new model vaults MingYang past Siemen Gamesa's SG 14-222 turbine as well as Vestas' 15-MW V236 option. It also surpasses GE's 14-MW Haliade-X option in the ongoing arms race amongst original equipment manufacturers for top spot in the turbine size table, according to IHS Markit data. MingYang only unveiled the latest model's predecessor, the 11-MW model, in July 2020.

MingYang, which until now has only one announced contract win in Europe, also fired a shot across the bows of its rivals on the company's ambitions in the top market for offshore wind until now, the North Sea. The latest turbine model would, the company said, find deployment ranging from "the typhoon-prone South China Sea to the constantly windy North Sea."

The company said it plans to grow its presence in mainstream offshore wind markets including Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. As part of those goals, MingYang has established a business and engineering center in Hamburg, Germany, and is also exploring developing manufacturing facilities outside of China, it said.

Established in 2006, MingYang has at least 11 operational or under construction manufacturing sites in mainland China, according to IHS Markit. The company has sold turbines equivalent to more than 10 GW of capacity, Chief Technology Officer Qiying Zhang said in the statement unveiling the latest model.

The company has an existing onshore and bottom-fixed offshore wind presence, but is also looking to expand into the nascent floating offshore wind sector, seeking to get the jump on its domestic rivals there too.

In July, China's first demonstration floating offshore wind turbine set sail for an installation site off the coast of Yangjiang City in Guangdong Province—a MingYang SE5.5MW turbine. Installation, commissioning, and testing of the turbine will be carried out over the next six months at the 400-MW Yangxi Shapa III project being developed by China Three Gorges (CTG).

Meantime, the first step for MingYang in its expansion into Europe saw the company ship 10 3-MW turbines for the Taranto project off Italy's Mediterranean coast earlier in August, the first win for a mainland Chinese turbine manufacturer in Europe, according to IHS Markit. The wind farm is scheduled for construction in the third quarter of 2021.

Bigger turbines in Europe

Fortunes in the European market are going to won and lost over the next decade with bigger turbines than 3-MW models though.

Offshore turbine sizes have increased from a weighted average of 2.9 MW in 2010 to 6.4 MW for projects commissioned in Europe in 2020, according to IHS Markit, and are expected to increase further. Meantime, in mainland China, offshore turbine sizes have increased from a weighted average of 2.5 MW in 2010 to 5.2 MW for projects commissioned in 2020.

Wind speeds and density in mainland China are generally lower than in Europe in the North Sea. Smaller wind turbines generating at capacity are more cost-effective than larger units operating below capacity, although the popularity of larger turbines is rising as project developments move farther offshore into areas of higher wind speeds and density.

The competition for larger wind turbines in Europe is expected to be fierce. Vestas' V236 prototype will be tested in 2022, with production starting by 2024. Siemens Gamesa will commence serial production for the SG 10.0-193 DD wind turbine in 2022 and the SG 14-222 DD wind turbine in 2024.

GE Renewable Energy has obtained type certification for the Haliade-X 13-MW model and will deliver the turbine in 2023. It set to commercialize a 14-MW option thereafter.

Offshore wind targets

MingYang's decision to enter European waters also comes as the region is expected to see an unprecedented expansion of offshore wind development. Countries ringing the North Sea already dominate much of the installed capacity table, with the UK the front-runner at more than 10 GW.

That total is but a quarter of the expectations for the host of November's COP26 conference. The UK's target is 40 GW by 2030, including 11 GW in the ongoing ScotWind tender. Also, Germany is also targeting 40 GW by 2040, with an interim 2030 goal of 20 GW. The Netherlands wants 11.5 GW of offshore wind operational by 2030. And further along the coast, France expects to tender for 8.75 GW of capacity by 2028.

In the short term though, the global offshore wind turbine demand is forecast to fall 26.8% year on year to an estimated 1,234 offshore wind turbines in 2021, but rebound sharply to 1,943 units in 2022, recent research by IHS Markit analysts Melvin Leong, Chloe Lee and Ding Li Ang found.

Total offshore wind capacity stood at nearly 32 GW at the end of 2020, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Total global wind power capacity stood at about 743 GW at the end of 2020, according to the IEA.

Despite the promising outlook, the Global Wind Energy Council wants the world's largest energy users to upgrade their commitment to onshore and offshore wind. In an open letter, the top executives of wind industry companies reminded G20 leaders that planned wind installations fall short of the energy needs of a decarbonizing world.

"Should this pace of growth persist, we will fall short of the wind capacity required for carbon neutrality by 2050 by 43%, and effectively be condemned to fail in our collective climate goals," the CEOs wrote 19 July in a letter that the trade group coordinated.

Posted 20 August 2021 by Keiron Greenhalgh, Editor, Climate & Sustainability Group, IHS Markit

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